Industrial Scale GPUs – Rumours from the Virtual Trade Show Floor

HPC AI


NVIDIA’s GTC going virtual in February was the main attraction for the rest of the HPC show industry. My industry event calendar has been replaced by an endless stream of Zoom-like briefings and webinars. Three months after Covid-19 disrupted the HPC industry some patterns are emerging. Businesses with a remote working, gaming, telemedicine, home delivery or drug discovery component are booming. My neighbor sells a cloud-based telemedicine solution and he’s been glued in his home office twelve hours a day, 6 days a week attempting to keep abreast of the demand.

The AI markets, the financial services quantitative analysis markets and any manufacturing related to packaging or automating retail shopping are maintaining their momentum. However, any business related to travel or hospitality are really struggling. Expensify, a real cool high-tech portal for tracking and paying business travel expenses, recently contacted all their users requesting they adopt the Expensify Travel Purchasing Card to avoid additional processing fees for each expense report. Their business volume has dropped over 50% since February and will likely continue downward for a while. My next business trip will likely be after the summer. TripAdvisor similarly downsized by 25% this week.

Telemedicine Tools and Services are now very popular

Within the HPC domain Verne Global is experiencing strong growth from the financial services trading sector not the retail business. This community, like the pharmaceutical industry, value security and reliability above all else. It’s very common that our data center staff can only enter their data halls in the unlikely event of an emergency. So, although the hyperscaler clouds are currently growing well, the financial trading analytics teams aren’t a large component of it – they much prefer traditional data center colocation.

To meet ever-changing customer needs, we evolved our hpcDIRECT bare-metal cloud service into a managed bare metal infrastructure-as-a-service solution focused on cost optimisation. Subsequently, we’ve recently contracted for one of NVIDIA's largest, if not the largest, commercial V-100 cluster. Thank goodness we are using Iceland’s renewable green energy. We anticipate extensive interest in this bare-metal plus colocation option from the drug discovery community to the financial services sector as they get even more focused on Covid-19 options.

4 NVIDIA V100 GPU Server

Last autumn at the “HPC and AI on Wall Street” event it became clear that the scale of HPC in the financial services industry carefully controlled its rapid wholescale transition to the latest technology. Most of the Monte Carlo compute grids that I encountered were still exploiting server CPU technology, but this was about to change. Several technology teams were already validating the advantages of using GPU acceleration and thinking about how to leverage AI techniques at scale.

Although the financial service technical teams are very private regarding their secret sauces this NVIDIA graphic clearly shows while the move from CPUs to GPUs was essential to avoid Monte Carlo grid obsolescence:

For more financial service HPC insight review the NVIDIA/Verne Global datasheet.

I’ve been on more than a few AI calls recently where a tight supply chain for high-powered GPUs was discussed. No longer can you get next-day delivery of V100s in quantity and I understand the successful DGX1 & 2 integrated GPU servers are even more popular with the Covid-19 drug discovery community. Some enterprising engineers are now using the RTX-8000 GPU as an alternative.

Let’s hope all this computing power drives the early delivery of a Covid-19 treatment or vaccination solution soon and that the resulting molecule is easy to produce in volume.

As I look at the future virtual AI/HPC industry events I find myself wanting to join many of them and listen to the content in the background and then focus on their pearls of wisdom as they appear. I’m currently overwhelmed with choice and many of the events are low or no cost too:

I’d love to hear how folks are finding their virtual events. Many of their organizers are claiming huge attendee numbers but I‘m trying to determine whether people are browsing or listening. Personally, I find if I travel somewhere, I’m much more inclined to burn the candle at both ends and get the utmost out of the event.

Bring your industrial scale HPC projects to Iceland and take advantage of our green energy, free air cooling and fabulous pricing. Let’s chat about your next project.

Bob Fletcher

VP of Artificial Intelligence, Verne Global

Email: bob.fletcher@verneglobal.com




Written by Bob Fletcher

See Bob Fletcher's blog

Bob, a veteran of the telecommunications and technology industries, is Verne Global's VP of Strategy. He has a keen interest in HPC and the continuing evolution of AI and deep neural networks (DNN). He's based in Boston, Massachusetts.

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